Touristy Food Spots That Philly Loves, Too
Philly is the birthplace of America, so Philly is a city filled — at all times — with tourists. And since food tourism is booming across the world, since Philly has the big-deal food scene that it does, we’ve got a bunch of people learning about this town by eating their way through it. They’ll use our 50 Best list as their guide, of course, but they’ll have to stop at all the tourist traps, too. Here, we’ve compiled a list of all the tourist-y restaurants and food spots worth your time. The places with as many native Philadelphians as there are tourists.
Reading Terminal Market, Center City
An excellent first stop for any trip to Philly, Reading Terminal Market is a microcosm of the dining scene in Philly – offering everything from Amish Baked goods to Peking duck and everything in between. Residents also know its home to some of the best bulk bins in the city. Check out our full guide here.
Zahav, Old City
It’s impossible to get into, but if you do you’ll be treated to a meal of a lifetime. If you don’t, check out any number of CookNSolo‘s other restaurants – they’re all excellent. Don’t forget, there are 22 bar seats available for walk-in every night. May the odds be ever in your favor.
Pat’s and Geno’s, Italian Market
All those people who say Pat’s and Geno’s suck? They’re all eating there at 3 a.m. Some people will say you have to choose a favorite, but people who care about you (us) and want to you to have a good time (also us) will tell you to a) go at night so that you can revel in the kitsch of the neon lights and b) go to both so you can compare and contrast.
Any cheesesteak spot, Everywhere
While we’re talking about cheesesteaks, we should mention that, in fact, it doesn’t really matter where you try one. The best cheesesteak is either the ones we’ve listed here, or the one closest to you at any given moment.
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La Colombe, Fishtown
At this point, no trip to Philly is complete without a side trip to Fishtown to see the bougie hipster underbelly of the city. La Colombe’s flagship in Fishtown is wonder of industrial architecture and draft lattes.
Lest your visitors think the city survives on nothing but hoagie rolls, take them to Parc for a taste of old-world glamour and picture-perfect people watching on the edge of Rittenhouse Square.
The Italian Market, 9th Street between Fitzwater and Wharton Streets
One of the oldest and largest open-air markets in the US, the Italian Market is a clear tourist destination. But Philadelphians know it’s also still a great place to buy affordable produce, fresh meats and seafoods, and find specialty Italian items like high quality olives oils, vinegars, pastas and cheeses. If you’re overwhelmed, check out our guide to where to eat (and shop) in the Italian Market.
Franklin Fountain, Old City
There’s just something about old-fashioned soda shops vibe that keeps everyone – from tourists to long-time residents – coming back for more. In addition to seasonal flavors, the menu includes phosphates, egg creams, ice cream sundaes and sodas.
McGillin’s Old Ale House, Center City
As the oldest continuously running tavern in Philadelphia, McGillin’s has the historic cred to make this list. But it’s also just, you know, a good bar with a wide selection of beer and weekly karaoke.
John’s Roast Pork, South Philly
Some people would argue that the roast pork sandwich is the superior iconic Philadelphia sandwich. Whatever you believe about that, and wherever you hail from, you’ll find lines out the door at this roadside restaurant between three strip malls.
South Philly Barbacoa, Italian Market
A Chef’s Table episode does a tourist destination make. On the weekend, long lines that form early in the morning can make this place feel like too much work for just a couple of tacos. What is worth waiting in line for is the full spread – devotees know to order Barbacoa and pork by weight, so they come with all the fixings. Or, call a couple of days ahead and reserve your weekday taco spread for pickup.
To the uninitiated, it’s just a convenience store. To everyone else, it’s a lifestyle. Start with a hoagie and a $1 cup of coffee and go from there.
Ralph’s, Italian Market
The oldest Italian restaurant in America, apparently. We don’t love Ralph’s, but it definitely hits the spot when you’re craving red gravy.